You Can Give Back To AACPS Students Through Mentorship


A recurring theme I’ve heard over the past five years is a wanting on the part of parents and community members to be more involved in Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS). As we all know, school-based volunteering already exists. I can attest to this as an AACPS parent who has drilled math facts, read books, wiped lunch tables, and chaperoned field trips since the moment my child entered the school system. As I routinely say, volunteering feeds the soul!

What is new and growing in every school in our vast county is the #BePresent initiative and mentorship opportunities. From simply being another caring adult in the building as your schedule allows, to making an ongoing commitment to mentor a student or a small group of students, we have a place for you to make a significant contribution in the lives of children.

These types of programs might seem like a no-brainer for a school system as large as AACPS. Every school system has students who can benefit from mentors and there should be no shortage of caring adults willing to give back. Surprisingly, AACPS employs the only full-time staff member in Maryland, Senior Manager of Mentorship Programs Andre Dillard, whose sole job is to develop and scale mentorship opportunities. Mr. Dillard has been in his current role for only a short time but has already done so much, from developing a list of partner organizations, to coordinating non-school-based staff who spend a portion of their working hours per month mentoring students.

Mr. Dillard’s goals are twofold - to develop a diverse portfolio of opportunities for community members to serve at our schools during the school day or after school, and to scale mentorship programs beyond those with the greatest need to all students who can benefit from mentorship.

Research shows the myriad benefits mentorship has on our students including:

  • Decreased likelihood of initiating alcohol or drug use

  • Increased high school graduation rates

  • Lower high school dropout rates

  • Healthier relationships and lifestyle choices

  • Better attitude about school

  • Higher college enrollment rates and higher educational aspirations

  • Enhanced self-esteem and self-confidence

  • Improved behavior, both at home and at school

  • Stronger relationships with parents, teachers and peers

  • Improved interpersonal skills

The #BePresent campaign is now in all AACPS schools. Developed on the premise that "every child you pass in the hall has a story that needs to be heard and maybe you are the one to hear it,” the #BePresent initiative is a community/school partnership designed to increase and improve community relationships within schools. The purpose of #BePresent volunteers is to be another trusted adult in the hallways, making connections with students. A comprehensive, though succinct training session (two to two and a half hours) occurs twice per month. The time commitment and school assignment are mutually agreed upon by the volunteer and Mr. Dillard based on school need. As with the 1:1 or small group mentorship programs, background check and fingerprinting costs are covered by the school system.

For those who have more time to give and want to mentor a student, or perhaps a small group of students, there are plenty of ongoing mentorship opportunities to go around. Both individuals and members of organizations like STAIR and Together We Rise can become ongoing mentors. Every school has a mentor volunteer liaison to assist school administration in identifying students who can benefit from participating in mentorship. Likewise, both students and parents/guardians can contact school administration to request that they or their children become mentees. Of course, before students are placed with a mentor, permission is sought from a parent or guardian.

Students who are mentored are 130% more likely to become mentors themselves. Visit to get started and pay it forward! As always, I am available at 443-534-2660, or on social media.


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